CWRU Ready to Transform Historic Temple into Performing Arts Center

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When Temple-Tifereth Israel opened in 1924 on Cleveland's east side, it was one of the largest houses of worship in the city. But, with the move of the Jewish population to the suburbs, there was less use for such an immense structure on a weekly basis, and Rabbi Richard Block says maintenance costs were mounting.

RABBI BLOCK: It had gone beyond the point where one congregation could afford to maintain it, so part of our process was to reach out to our neighbors.

And next month, the Temple will start on a path to its new life as the Maltz Performing Arts Center of Case Western Reserve University. The Cleveland Planning Commission recently approved the proposal. University spokesperson Chris Sheridan says a new structure will be attached to the back of the historic building to make for a number of performance options.

CHRIS SHERIDAN: The sanctuary will become a lecture and concert hall, which will be able to seat well over a thousand. We will have a new 350-seat proscenium theater, as well as a black box theater that can be configured for different kinds of performances.

Plus, a recital hall, practice studios and office space. While the University owns the facility, the congregation will retain the right to hold special worship services. Sheridan says nearly $60 million of the $64 million needed for the renovation has been raised. Plans are for a groundbreaking in early April, and a grand opening of the new performing arts center in two years.

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